By Rosie Goy
Occupational Therapist at Just Checking
The Care Act 2014 is undoubtedly bringing additional challenges for those working in assessment and care planning.
The Care Act builds on recent reviews and reforms, replacing previous laws to provide a coherent approach to adult social care in England. There are various elements of the Care Act that have required care professionals to adjust the way they evaluate and assess the care needs of individuals.
My work with local authorities around the country has made it clear to me that the use of modern support services and technology could have benefits for both care professionals and clients. The integration of modern assessment services, such as Just Checking, can help practitioners to obtain better quality information for their assessments, which benefits clients, and can also create time and cost efficiencies.
Delivering evidence based assessments
The Care Act stipulates that an evidence based, outcome focused assessment of a person is crucial to establish a realistic picture of what care they may need. Practitioners are encouraged to demonstrate that their assessments are robust and proportionate to the person and their situation. If they are to provide care to enable a person to live their everyday life, assessors need to understand what that everyday life looks like over a realistic period of time.
This is where support services, like Just Checking, can help, by providing information about a person’s movement around the home, over a designated number of days or weeks, and covering the full 24 hours of each day. Just Checking has been developed specifically for the professional sector, with time-saving analysis and training for practitioners. It is easy to use and can provide valuable, accurate and unbiased evidence, that, when combined with other methods of information gathering, can help to ensure that practitioners are meeting the requirements of The Care Act. It can also help practitioners to, more confidently, make recommendations about what care a person should be receiving; making sure that they are not over or under supporting the person, and ensuring that high-cost packages of care are only provided when required.
In addition to the important requirement for evidence-based assessment, the Care Act also outlines that local authorities should consider the impact of the assessment process itself on the individual’s condition.
A large part of my role is alleviating concerns and uncertainties about what an assessment involves. Many find the process itself strenuous. There will be clear benefits for both practitioners and those being assessed if the assessment process can be as unobtrusive as possible. Services that monitor movement around the home, without the use of cameras or microphones, and which are tailored to the professional sector with a support team to help with analysis, can be a major step forward. They take away the need for assessors to spend a lot of time in the home, and can improve the accuracy of assessments, while also making them as unobtrusive as possible.
The Care Act advises that, following an assessment, individuals must be given a record of their needs or carer’s assessment, and that this information should also be provided to anyone else that they request receive it. Where an advocate is involved in supporting the individual, the local authority should keep the advocate informed, so that they can support the person to understand the outcome of the assessment and its implications. Practitioners will want to ensure that their assessments are as accurate and evidenced as possible, and can do this by adding modern technology, delivered with an integral support service, to their assessment methods.
Using Just Checking, any decisions following an assessment can be supported with evidence. The Just Checking system allows practitioners to objectively evaluate an individual’s situation and identify the proportional level of care required. At any time, this evidence can be provided to all concerned and any conjectural apprehensions can be proved or disproved with relative ease.
Balancing the best care with diminishing budgets
There is much discussion about the impact the pressure on council budgets will have on their ability to carry out assessments and reviews, in accordance with The Care Act. The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) has analysed council savings plans and says that the strain on councils meant they were now proposing changes that “fly completely in the face of the Care Act guidance”. It is my view that, now more than ever, councils will need to ensure that their assessments are evidence based and robust, especially if they are proposing to reduce the care provided.
In the face of reduced numbers of employees, councils will also need to help their staff to work in the most efficient way possible. Modern assessment support services, such as Just Checking, that combine technology with a professional sector support team, can help staff undertake assessments objectively, accurately and more time efficiently.
However, local authorities need to ensure that they are making the best choices when selecting which support services to use during the assessment process. Throughout The Care Act guidance there are references to the importance of having assessors appropriately trained. Councils need to ensure that, where modern assessment tools are being used, their assessors know how to use them and have been properly trained. At this important time of change, councils need to make partnerships with companies that will support them with training and back-up to help them deliver the best services for both clients and the tax payer.
Support is always available to all Just Checking customers. My role as Just Checking’s resident Occupational Therapist is to support you with legislative and policy advice surrounding your Just Checking system and offer a second opinion with complex cases, chart interpretation and best practice. To book a consultation, contact your local Partnership Development Manager or visit our contact us page.